Uneasy Street, or what P.I. fiction did after Chandler and Hammett
Here's a bit from Uneasy Street (1948), Wade Miller's second Max Thursday novel:
"(S)he sounded like a wandering-husband case, probably young, leggy, dissatisfied. And his mind roved curiously. ...That's one way to confront an imposing model, to challenge it straight on, then to slyly undercut it. It's a brilliant strategy, and it can work if one has the confidence and chops to pull if off, and Miller (pen name for the writing team of Robert Wade and Bill Miller) did. (Wade and Miller were also Whit Masterson, under which name they wrote the novel that Orson Welles adapted as Touch of Evil. So odds are that even if you don't know their names, you've had some contact with Wade and Miller's work.)
"When he could see her more plainly, Thursday wondered why he had expected her to be young. She was anything but that— a small frail woman, delicately wrinkled, with hair the moonlight couldn’t whiten."
Uneasy Street has something of Chandler's yearning romanticism with a tinge of Hammett's witty detachment, the latter possibly because Miller wrote the book in the third person. It's witty without cracking wise, serious without getting maudlin, the way some of Chandler's successors in the 1960s did. It's in the tradition of both great progenitors of hard-boiled crime without being greatly reminiscent of each. And it's a good place to look if you wonder where private-eye fiction went after Hammett and Chandler.
© Peter Rozovsky 2015